The Need For Fast And Fair Justice
“Services Provided by Provincial Prosecutor’s Office”, is the topic of Kapihan forum on February 23, 2013. The guest is Atty. Flosemar Chris Gonzales, Department of Justice (DOJ). He said, “the mandate of the National Prosecution Service is to dispense justice without fear or favor. This includes: a) building legal cases that may lead to prosecution and conviction, b) providing information to different judicial courts, c) free legal assistance to battered women, victims of human trafficking, extra judicial killings, d) free legal advice to LGU’s under the Barangay Justice System, and e) implement the Witness Protection Program”.
Violence against women is a public crime under RA 9262. Under the law, male suspects are subject to warrantless arrest and inquest is immediately done within 18 hours. Initially, case is filed with the Barangay Captain and Philippine National Police (PNP) with the coordination of NGO (VAWC). Women on the other hand who pummel their husbands during family feud can be charged to slight physical injuries, said Gonzales.
The Anti-Trafficking in Person’s Act or RA 9208 prohibits illegal recruitment, facilitating and transporting persons promising them decent jobs and security but in reality herds them into prostitution, forced labor and slavery. The law also covers migrant sugarcane workers or “sacada” long exploited by unscrupulous labor contractors. The Department of Labor and Employment implements a rigid hiring guideline capped by a work contract. It stipulates minimum wage, adequate medical assistance, food and regular working day of 8-10 hours.
Likewise, the “Kasambahay” Law stipulates a contract signed between an employer and a domestic helper at local Barangay Office. Salient provisions are 10 hours rest per day, day off once a week, Social Security Service and PhilHealth memberships, 13th month pay, overtime pay and minimum wage of P1,500 per month (towns) and P2,500 (cities) subscribed to by employer.
Election Gun Ban
The Election Gun Ban covered by Comelec Resolution No. 9561-A started on January 13. It will end on June 30, 2013. Permit to Carry Firearms (PTC) prohibits permitees to carry guns outside their residence. This includes deadly weapons (knives, bolos) and toy guns. Violators will be subjected to one year to 6 years imprisonment and P12,000 bond, underscored Atty. Gonzales.
If found guilty as charged of violence of any form perpetuated against women and children will be meted harsher penalties under the law. Data of National Demographic and Health Survey of 2008 show that:
a) One in 5 women aged 5-18 years was exposed to physical violence since age 15,
b) 14.4 percent of married women were abused by their husbands; 36 percent if widowed or separated,
c) One in 25 women aged 15-49 years experienced forced sexual intercourse, and
d) One in 10 women aged 15-49 experienced sexual violence.
The National Statistics Office (NSO) Index of 2010 reported that there are 30 million Filipino children whose ages range from 15 to 17 years old. However, 5.4 million Filipino or 19 percent of total are working in questionable jobs like prostitution, mining and construction. In Western Visayas, there are 250,000 children mostly found in cities.
Curbing criminality can only be achieved if we have responsible gun ownership. Death from bullet wound in the United States is 30 per million population while in the Philippines, 9 per million. The Philippines has 1.2 million registered guns while 0.6 million are unlicensed. In Western Visayas, out of 37,821 firearms as of August 2012, some 33,675 or 89 percent had expired guns licenses to date. It will be herculean task if the PNP will go after the illegal possessions of firearms. Kalibo alone has 400 cases of it, said Atty. Gonzales.
Supt. Raul Petrasanta, Chief of PNP Firearms and Explosives Division revealed that the Short Messaging System (SMS) is adopted to verify ownership of firearms whose owners are arrested during the election period. Is this fully implemented in Aklan?
The NSO 2010 data show the top 10 occupational categories is dominated by domestic helpers (98 percent). The implementation of the Kasambahay Law might hasten the development of the most exploited labor group. In order to professionalize Kasambahay, they must follow labor standards – like educational qualification, good moral character and in good health.
It is deplorable that another People’s Organization leader named Dexter Condez working for rights of indigenous people in Boracay is victim of extra judicial killing. He was reportedly gunned down February 26, Friday evening by unknown assailants while walking home after a public meeting. It is ironic that both Comelec and PNP are powerless in curbing gun violence in highly protected areas. The culture of impurity tends to go unabated as gunholders refuse to cooperate with authorities. Better to revoke their licenses and confiscate hidden firearms to better armed the members of PNP.
The ratio of service firearm to PNP personnel is 1:17, enough reason why criminal syndicates proliferate. DOJ has a daunting task what with heavy backlog of cases in the courts. The wheels of justice in this country move at turtle pace, the reason why Pres. Ramon Magsaysay was moved to say, “The less in life must have more in law”. Evidently this is just wishful thinking and dysfunction that create class distinctions of justice for the poor and another for the rich. /MP